Sales of juice extractors are going through the roof as more and more people are tempted by all the hype being spread on the Internet and by various celebrities (all of whom are handsomely paid to do so!).
These machines extract the juice, and only the juice, from fruits and vegetables – all the pulp and fiber is removed. The end product is a thin watery liquid that contains all the nutrients the fruit or vegetable has to offer.
It certainly sounds healthy enough and does have some benefits. However, as we shall see, there are some definite downsides to juicing as well.
One obvious benefit is that it enables people who don’t like a particular fruit or vegetable and so would never eat it, to get the nutrients it offers.
Another is that by eliminating the starchy, and thus high in carbohydrates, part of the food, juicing can help people to lose weight.
Juicing provides an excellent way of ensuring that we get the recommended ‘five a day’ that virtually every health authority insists on these days. There is actually a lot of merit in this and having a juicer makes it very easy to do.
We are more likely to try a wider variety of fruit and vegetables. This increases the range of nutrients we take in and will undoubtedly have beneficial effects on our overall health.
One big disadvantage of juicing is the cost. Juicing is expensive when compared to eating whole fruits and vegetables. To start with, the juice extractors themselves are quite costly. Then there’s the food – you’ll need a lot more of it than if you were eating it whole. Whereas eating a couple of apples or so will fill you up, getting a worthwhile amount of juice will need a lot more.
Juicing can make us ill. This is because raw food contains microbes which can be the cause of a range of conditions such as vomiting, diarrhoea, e.coli, food poisoning, hepatitis and even kidney failure. For this reason, commercially produced juices and smoothies are put through a pasteurization process that kills all organisms that are potentially dangerous. Home-made versions are not!
Drinking vegetables is not the same as eating them. We may be getting the nutrients but we won’t be getting the fiber that slows the speed at which they are digested. Health-wise, this is as important as the nutrients themselves.
Fiber is also essential for the promotion of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. These bacteria play an important role in preventing constipation and diseases of the gut, such as bowel cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Fiber is also known to play a major role in keeping our immune systems healthy.
It’s easy to overdo things and take in a concentrated dose of nutrients that the body simply isn’t designed to handle. When this happens, the body will usually absorb what it needs and then excrete what’s left. It doesn’t always, however – some water-soluble vitamins taken in excess can cause problems. For example, too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve problems, and excess vitamin C can cause kidney stones.
Problems also arise when just, or mainly, fruit is juiced. This can result in a drink that has far more sugar than is healthy. For example, juicing five large oranges produces a drink that contains about twenty teaspoons of sugar. Quite apart from all the health issues this can cause, it is very bad for the teeth and gums.
Tip – note that with some fruits and vegetables, many of the nutrients are actually in the skin or just under it – avocados are a typical example. It’s precisely this part that many people will discard during the preparation process – don’t make this mistake.
While drinking the juice of vegetables and fruits can help in achieving a healthy diet when done sensibly, there are simply too many downsides to the concept. Our advice is to give this one a definite miss.